What hosting the BBC 6 Music Festival means for Cardiff
The BBC 6 Music festival rolls into Cardiff this weekend bringing the full rock and roll circus of music royalty.
The event, accompanied by the Creative Wales Fringe Festival, means a week of shows and events across Cardiff’s pandemic-starved music venues.
The Fringe kicked off at The Moon on Monday, while the official BBC event began on Wednesday March 30 at Clwb Ifor Bach. This combination is designed to shine a light on the best of what Cardiff has to offer, putting its musicians and venues on an international stage alongside some of the top artists in the world.
Hosting the event is a sign of Cardiff’s ambition as a music city. In 2019, the Cardiff Music Board was created to protect and promote the city’s musical heritage. With so many popular small venues around the country being closed or forced to adapt to new surroundings, the preservation of the city’s cultural hubs is crucial to the longevity of the music scene.
Rob Toogood, owner of the Fuel nightclub and music venue, said, “We’re really happy to be part of the festival. It’s good to be part of an event that draws national attention to what the Cardiff music scene has to offer.”
Long-term, Rob hopes that the festival can bring people into venues they might not usually frequent.
“Hopefully the festival will shine a light on the lesser covered but nonetheless hugely popular parts of the local music scene,” he says.
“The Manics playing at Clwb is fantastic and it would be great to see this sort of thing more often; huge local bands playing in smaller venues.”
For one venue, the Fringe offers the perfect opportunity to start fresh, bringing a new flavour to Cardiff’s musical nightlife. Carpe Noctem opens on Charles Street on Friday 1 April, hosting the ‘Bitch, please!’ launch event. Located on the site that used to be home to Minsky’s showbar, Carpe Noctem will provide a home for independent electronic music in the Welsh capital.
For music fans
It’s not just businesses who stand to benefit. The teeming music scene in Cardiff is only possible thanks to a die-hard cohort of music lovers that support the gigs put on by the venues and promoters in the city.
Bill Cummings, editor of the Cardiff-based new music webzine God Is In The TV, says the festival brings a spotlight to everything that is going on in Cardiff.
“I think the Fringe is inspired,” said Cummings.
“It unites different community groups. The big events are great and bring attention but what happens when they leave? And that’s why the fringe event is brilliant. It’s like a snowball.
“Bringing big names to beloved smaller venues – having the Manics at Clwb – it’s like giving something back. After Covid this helps the venues because they have been struggling for two years. It’s been hard for a lot of venues to get back into the swing of things. It’s been tough.
“But Welsh music is really taking off again. There’s a lot of exciting talent in different genres in Cardiff. You’ll hear the term Cool Cymru 2.0 but I don’t like that description. I think of it as the new Welsh wave. There is so much great stuff going on here.”
For the singers and musicians who are already active in the Cardiff music scene, the festival offers a chance to showcase their talents in front of potential new audiences.
Foxxglove, who plays at Tiny Rebel on Friday, April 1, said, “I think it’s going to be massive for the Cardiff music scene and [will] put a spotlight on the talent here. There’s such a wide variety of talent from all genres and backgrounds and it’s really inspiring to see.”
With this being the first time the festival has come to Wales, a platform is being offered, not just for Welsh artists, but for Welsh language artists too, which Foxxglove says is important.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing how many Welsh/Welsh language artists are going to be playing leading up to the festival,” she said.
“It’s just so lush to see Cardiff get the recognition it deserves.”
After two years of cancelled, postponed and rescheduled gigs comes to a close — Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that all restrictions for Covid in Wales ended on Monday March 28 — it’s fair to say the city is hungry to get back to its’ booming, pre-Covid situation, getting sweaty in tiny rooms and giant halls together.
“It’s class to see the live music scene back and thriving, it’s gonna be great,” says Foxxglove.
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